Published by Penguin Books, September 2014, 304 pages, £7.19
Quick description: young rich New Yorker freaking out after college, an insight into the post-9/11 generation.
Steam?: not much, but definitely PG rated content.
Plot: Only six months has passed since 9/11 and New York is still reeling from its devastating after effects.For Hailey, living back with her parents in their Fifth Avenue penthouse after graduation, life feels like a struggle – to find a job, to come to terms with her new post 9/11 home, and to create a new identity in the adult world she finds herself thrust into.Whilst all those around her seem to be doing so well -Katie is already working at Morgan Stanley, Randy and Jess seem content to stay out all night and party like they are still students – Hailey is desperate for something more. She just doesn’t know what. And to top it all, Michael Brenner, the man she feels sure is the one for her, always seems just out of reach.But when she meets Adrian, a recent Brown graduate who is wildly different from her privileged milieu, she finds her world view turned upside down and begins to realise that there is more to life and love than she ever believed.
This novel is totally up my alley and would resonate with anyone in their early to mid-twenties. It is thoughtful, engaging and absolutely right. This is not about a little rich girl constantly whining. This is about a young women whose structured life-list has dwindled to two more boxes to tick: get a job and get married. On the outside her life seems fantastic. She can go out till dawn at fancy clubs drinking Mandarin Tonics, go for a luxury brunch and if she really wanted, have her mum make that call that would get her a job. But she wants to be somebody with a sense of purpose, and finally achieve something by herself, not wasting away at an empty penthouse. There are also so many crappy issues swimming around and plenty for the reader to chew on. She is in love with someone who is too perfect he is unreal. She tries to deal the massive rifts in her family and on top of that struggles with the tremors of uncertainty that 9/11 had created.
I am not an Upper East Sid-er or a Chelsea girl but I have definitely not been roughing it all my life. So I get how Hailey feels when the pressure is there to succeed, especially when the odds are stacked in your favor. As graduates we KNOW right? We are in a hotpot of expectations: comparing, asking, waiting… Its funny how situations haven’t really changed since the early 00’s. The author captures all these feelings very well.
The novel is structured with no chapters, but paragraph breaks, which really captures the never ending fragmentation. Hailey’s thoughts drift back and forth between dark memories, make-belief scenarios and dreams of the future. The writing is super witty at times, with very sharp dialogues. I loved this line of Hailey’s: ‘Even if I handed her the stack of cover letters I sent out since I graduated, or mentioned all the second round interviews I’d gone on, or all the hours I spent perusing the Times, Hotjobs and Craiglist, they’d still picture me in my pajamas padding around this apartment all day’ (p.27) (I totally get you girl).
It was really interesting getting an insight into a post-9/11 world and the New York elite; their lives are so shiny but suffocating. I never realised that you can live in a big city but still feel like your in a small neighborhood where everyone knows everybody’s business. But this novel is not all gloom. Hailey’s hopes are restored towards the end, especially in the form of Adrian, who breezes in like fresh air.
Connect with the author: @michellehaimoff